Ohio State men's basketball | Chris Holtmann talks C.J. Jackson's cramping issues on call-in show

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann holds the ball that was thrown out of bounds in the second half during the game against High Point Panthers at Value City Arena in Columbus on December 29, 2018. [Samantha Madar/Dispatch]

Two days after the Ohio State men’s basketball team lost at home to No. 8 Michigan State, coach Chris Holtmann took to the airwaves for his weekly radio show – once a lengthy film session that ran late eventually came to a close.

If you couldn’t listen in, here are the highlights:

*Senior guard C.J. Jackson was significantly limited during the second half with a cramping issue.

“C.J. has, I think I can share this, some things that he goes through knowing that he went through cramping issues last year,” he said. “There is, with our medical staff, really specific things that he has to go through. Some of it involves some medication. He’s got to do that on a regular basis. I think like any young person he doesn’t always love doing it, but it’s important for him to do that in order to eliminate some of the cramping. He’s fine now. He had cramps early in the second half. I had to take him out.

“He went back in and then he just, he was not very effective and he switched a matchup defensively, he put Duane Washington on Cassius (Winston) and that was not a matchup that we particularly wanted, and that told us he can’t play right now. He was tremendous in the first half. I probably left him in there three minutes to go in the game and we had a missed blockout and some of that might have had to do with his lack of ability to move. I wish I would’ve pulled him earlier. You’re always going to err on the side of giving your returning guys a chance to play as much as possible.

As for how much the leg cramps cripple Jackson’s ability to move, Holtmann said, “He can’t when he has them. They’re painful. We’re going to continue to monitor it.”

*Jackson’s issues had a lot to do with Winston’s breakthrough second half, Holtmann said. That, and Luther Muhammad’s foul trouble.

*Much of the talk once Holtmann arrived centered on what happened against the Spartans. Radio analyst Ron Stokes asked Holtmann about his team’s defensive rotations in the game.

“We were trying to mix up our post coverage a little bit,” he said. “They’re so good at getting the ball inside, and we took advantage as well of some of their post defense. Kaleb was terrific offensively. I thought we did a good job neutralizing (Nick) Ward particularly in the last 10-15 minutes. We fouled him a couple times and I guess they were fouls. He does a good job jumping into you and throwing his body into you. I’m disappointed that we allowed 76 percent from the field in the second half and 50 points and we had some mental errors.”

Holtmann was also asked about his team’s transition defense.

“I would give us just an OK grade on that,” he said. “I thought they had the score in the second half where McQuaid took it in transition and drove right into us. Cassius got loose a little in transition and got them going. It was something we emphasized a lot going in. the thing I’ve probably learned as much about this group as anything is there are times where we have some inexperience on the floor and then we have times where we’re expecting guys who have been in our program for one year to lead the way.”

*A submitted question asked about intimidating opposing arenas.

“I can think of a lot,” he said. “The Big Ten has led college basketball in attendance for I think 42 or 43 years now, so home and road, you’re playing in great environments. Northwestern, they have a newly renovated arena, it’s sold out, they have 8,000. Rutgers, fantastic environment. Now, it’ll have 7 or 8 thousand but it’ll have a great environment. Purdue was incredible last year. I’ve heard Michigan State is incredible. Indiana was loud last year on senior day. It was nice to win at some of those places.”

In the Big East, “Creighton is a fantastic environment. Xavier. Butler, No. 1. They have a tremendous environment and home arena. Villanova, took, the arena when they play on campus is fantastic.”

*One submitted question posed the suggestion that the officiating was questionable in the Michigan State game and wondered if the officials ever admit messing up a call.

“I would agree there were questionable calls,” Holtmann said. “Maybe a little one-sided in my unbiased opinion. They do tell us when they, you have to call them out for them to admit that they have screwed up a call, and you have to be pretty direct. They’re not going to willingly come up and say I screwed that up. Usually the end up giving it back to you at some point. In some cases they don’t.”

On Wesson’s fifth foul, when he appeared to flop after light contact with Ward, Holtmann said, “What typically happens is they think it’s a flop, they’re going to call a foul every time. The interesting thing is I thought nick ward had flopped a couple possessions (earlier). All the stuff that’s come from the NBA down where you saw so many guys flopping, they’re trying to eliminate that from the game. In the last three minutes, they could’ve called that when we got the ball to Kaleb late and Nick flopped and they didn’t call it.”

He also related a story about the best types of refs to work with.

“The officials that we have the hardest times with are the ones you can’t have a conversation with,” he said. “Way back in my days I had an official when I was at Gardner-Webb and playing one of those ‘money’ games where you get paid 80-90,000 dollars to get paid at in this case Louisville. It was late, the game was out of hand and there was a bad call. One of the other officials had called it and I was on this particular other official. I said that’s a terrible call. He winked at me and said I’ve got you. As soon as they got the ball across half court, the guy had his feet set in cement, it was immediate: walking violation on Louisville.”

*It wasn’t the best game for Keyshawn Woods, and Holtmann was asked how the staff tries to move forward with the graduate transfer.

“Encourage him and look at it with film,” he said. “He’s got to be a little more aggressive than what he was. For him, being a new player to our program, he’s so much a young man that wants to do the right thing and I think he probably played a little too cautious the other day. I don’t worry about Keyshawn because he’s such a good kid and he wants to do well and I think he’ll bounce back and have some good games. If he was his normal self that certainly would’ve helped us. I’m not saying we would’ve won, but it would’ve helped us.”

*Holtmann also lauded the energy Kyle Young has brought while discussing some areas of needed growth.

“Kyle’s brought great energy both starting and coming off the bench,” he said. “He’s at his best when he’s flying around and playing with good energy. I just had a conversation with him about that. I told him when you’re not playing that way, you’re just another good player out there. He’s a young man where we are expecting his attention to detail to be at the highest level and his effort at the highest level. Sometimes I have to remember he’s a sophomore, because there were some attention-to-detail things we have to get better at and Kyle does. Having said that, his game has really grown and he’s played really well for us.

“One of the things I love about Kyle is he certainly wants to play well but he is a tremendous kid. It’s a classic example of an Ohio kid that all he cares about is Ohio State winning. That’s why he’s going to be a part of some good teams here, because he’s going to bring that attitude.”


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